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The Mistress's Daughter

3.22 of 5 stars 3.22  ·  rating details  ·  2,717 ratings  ·  477 reviews
The acclaimed writer A. M. Homes was given up for adoption before she was born. Her biological mother was a twenty-two-year-old single woman who was having an affair with a much older married man with a family of his own. The Mistress's Daughter is the ruthlessly honest account of what happened when, thirty years later, her birth parents came looking for her. Homes relates ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published March 25th 2008 by Penguin Books (first published 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Kim
Have you ever had one moment, one fleeting moment when you thought ‘I wonder if I’m adopted?’ Maybe some of you have had more than one of these ruminations, or maybe some of you have been adopted and wonder what your biological parents could do for you that your adopted ones have failed to or…. Maybe some of you come from a blue collar, somewhat dysfunctional, totally unhealthy suburban family with a pool and stray dogs and overly wrought holidays with extended family that sure make you wish for ...more
Kevin
Sometimes I read books by authors I like with a generous mindset. When I first started Homes's memoir I was enjoying it pretty well. Then I talked with a friend who teaches memoir writing and she told me that she really hated this book. She listed a few reasons (victimy narration, dull details, the funny way that Homes never really talks about her own mistakes) and told me I should read Another Bullshit Night and Stop Time instead. Thanks, Debra!
When I returned to The Mistress's Daughter after t
...more
Melissa
May 22, 2012 Melissa rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people involved in adoption
Shelves: read-in-2008
I have never read anything else written by Homles but was interested in this book because I gave up a baby for adoption 18 years ago. I thought this book might help me understand what my biological daughter is going through and it did help in that way. I like the way she writes and the story was good but I could not stand the middle part of the book where she goes on & on & on & on about the genealogy of her family. It is completly boring and doesn't really add to the story, she coul ...more
Kimberly Steele
The Mistress's Daughter was an important book for me. I am grateful for its publication and that's not something I would say easily. I am an adoptee and I can empathize (unfortunately) with A.M. Homes journey on a variety of levels. Mistress may have its detractors but if you're not an adoptee, or if you ARE an adoptee but maybe everything about adoption is just hunky-dorey for you, you're just not going to get it.

Homes perfectly describes the surreal feeling of going through your life having "
...more
Tara
Mar 27, 2007 Tara rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of memoir/Homes
A.M. Homes is one of my longtime absolute favorites - she writes such great, strange stuff involving disturbingly unique characters like I've never seen. This is a departure... of sorts... for her. It's her memoir, apparently sprung at least in part from a 2004 New Yorker essay about her first encounters with her biological parents. Not so surprisingly, in her life she has history with some bizarre characters and circumstances, but certainly retains hope and beauty as well... perhaps more so tha ...more
Lori
I wanted to like this book but I actually hated it, and only finished it because I read it for book club. It's an odd amalgam of three kinds of books, actually: a very whiny memoir, a bit about the author's extended family and modern day genealogy, and a piece about the author's grandmother. I'm surprised I made it through the first part, the very whiny memoir, because I read it with my jaw dropped and in a state of often-infuriated shock. Poor her, she was adopted into a lovely family and when ...more
Sandy
I thought this book was very whiny. Here is a young talented woman who has a very loving adopted family and all we see is that she wants to be loved by her birth parents. When she is rejected by her father, instead of getting over it, she tries to make herself loved. Someone needs to tell her that it isn't always about her. There are factors outside of herself that makes him act as he does. The man does not change. Also , she is overwhelmed by her birth mother to the point that she tries to back ...more
Guillermo Jiménez
Recuerdo estar en la cocina con mi abuela materna, cuando una mañana
le pregunté de dónde venía ella. Seguía siendo aún adolescente y eran
rarísimas las ocasione que recordaba me interesaba por la historia
familiar.

De papá tenía una idea general, un poco de su infancia, algo de su
juventud, muy poco de su vida adulta. De mamá había más de donde
cortar, pero, aún así no me quedaba claro de dónde diablos venía yo.

Fue la primera vez que me interesé por la vida de los demás.

Después, fueron muchas más las
...more
Alden
Hmmm. AM Homes has had a peculiar life as this account of meeting (and not especially liking) her birthparents shows. This is an unusual adoptee's story, as readers familiar with Homes' savagely funny, psychologically accute novels will expect.

Here is my interview with A.M. Homes for the April 2007 issue of BookPage.

http://www.bookpage.com/0704bp/a_m_ho...
Julz
I found this book interesting, because unlike most adoption reunion tomes, it focused on an adoptee being found by a biological parent. While the author's story is far more dramatic and negative than mine, it came closer than most of what I've read to reflecting the complex reality I've experienced.
Petra X smokin' hot
Memoir of when her adoptive mother traced her and then how she traced her father. Both parents were extremely eccentric and thereofre it made for an Interesting perspective on the more usual adoption story of child tracing birth mother.

Klaudia
In my opinion, this is a poorly written memoir. Book two contains a few poetic fantasies, that are imagined truths. What I really disliked about this memoir is the lack of action, empathy, and understanding. Homes starts off her memoir with this crazed fantasy of her birth parents, especially her birth mother. When her birth mother doesn't live up to her expectations, AM seems to shun her. She asks herself a few times if her father would have bothered to contacted her if she wasn't this importan ...more
Moira Russell
Gripping, but goes by way too fast -- definitely one of those books that began as a New Yorker article (the author admits it in the text) and was fleshed out into a very small book. It's weird to witness this kind of reversal when the same magazine was known for publishing entire books -- Hiroshima, In Cold Blood, Silent Spring -- that went on to become classics. I'm not sure when this trend started of publishing New Yorker articles with probably some few dozen pages of outtakes that were edited ...more
Kelly
The Mistress's Daughter is a memoir about the author and her search for identity. A.M. Homes was adopted at birth, and is caught by surprise when her birth mom contacts her years later.

Much of the book centers around the author's conflicting feelings about her identity and what it means to belong to a family. There's also a fair amount of geneology in the second half of the book. I found it interesting, but readers looking for a story more about adoption and the birth parents may find it boring
...more
Angelina
This was boring. A.M. Homes whined and acted immaturely throughout the entire memoir. She is frustrating and unsympathetic. A.M. Homes has some abandonment issues she tried to work out through this memoir but it is not a journey you want to take with her. She is whines far too much and acts immature. She shuns her birth-mother and seems to have quite a bit of hostility and annoyance toward her. She won't see her or call her and mocks her insecurities. Yet, Homes will stop at nothing to please he ...more
Marguerite Kaye
This was a real mix. Extremely painful to read in places, almost cringey, in others it was a bit boring, and ultimately it was unsatisfying because it was kind of a mystery without an ending. Of course it must be even more frustrating for Homes herself, not getting the answers to questions, but that's different!

This is the story of what it is to be adopted. The painful bit was also the interesting bit - how she felt, being confronted with biological parents she'd never sought out, what that did
...more
Kelly
Interesting. I wanted to like this more than I did. A writer finds her birth parents -- she was the daughter of a married man and his mistress. Unfortunately, all the characters are just SO unlikeable, including the narrator herself. (Her birth parents are odious.) Some interesting observations on self and memory, but ultimately, "meh."
Molly
The first half of this book was good, then it just got to be a big pity party. The end turned out to be pretty lame. I had read Homes' article in the New Yorker which is basically the beginning of this book, and really that was the only good part.
Andrew Marshall
What happens when you're adopted and your biological parents get in touch?

The answer is it blows your life apart and you have to slowly piece together a new version of yourself. Reading the book will quite possibly have a similar effect on you because it makes you realise how much our behaviour impacts on other people and often for years and years into the future. (In this case, the affair of a married man and his mistress which resulted in the birth of AM Homes and complicated his life, his wi
...more
Sarah
Self-indulgent. And (/Because, let's not be shy) I still haven't really forgiven her for "The End of Alice." If you kill someone for the sake of Art, they're still dead, you pretentiously gender-neutral prat.
Jennifer
I've always loved genealogy and biographies. This book was the best of both. A.M. Homes' story of discovering being sought out by her biological mother is compelling, heart wrenching and difficult to put down. I thoroughly enjoyed her stream of consciousness style of writing, the bald intimacy and emotional honesty are brutal. I think it was the painful truths that so captivated me with this story. As a prospective adoptive parent, I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to adoptive parents a ...more
Linh
The Mistress's Daughter was nothing like what I expected it to be. Not that that's a bad thing. I guess I just expected it to be about a girl who grew up with her mistress mother waiting for her father to visit on days where he doesn't have to be with his family. I'm not sure why I did but A.M. Homes' story was a much more depressing one where she had little contact with her biological parents.

I felt bad for her and her mother as the story went on and I do not respect her biological father at al
...more
Cheryl
I get so hooked on books about women who are searching for and trying to understand their relationship with their mother. That is probably because I feel so homeless right now. Anyway, here are my favorite lines, and I think A. M. Homes has become one of my favorite writers.

"Once I know something, the amount of effort it takes to deny it, to suspend knowledge, is enormous and potentially more dangerous than to simply move along with it and see where it takes me."

"At this point it would take noth
...more
Martine
I was disappointed in this book. A.M. Homes is such a good writer, one with humor and clever insight into the human condition. This memoir, and maybe because it is a memoir, was written with such a sad, self pitying tone that I had a hard time finishing it. Not that her experiences didn't justify feeling sorry for oneself--they did-but the way the book was written I wondered if she had written it too son, still clouded by her emotional experiences with adoption, finding her birth parents and bio ...more
Hooma
I came across a review for this book in the Oprah Magazine. I had this book tucked on away on my mental "to read" list for a long time. A.M Homes is an acclaimed writer in her own right (I have not yet had the opportunity to read her books) who always knew she was adopted. However, it isn't until she is adult that she is contacted by her birth mother and meets her birth parents.

Unlike what one sees in movies and reads in novels, being reunited with one's biological parents years after being gi
...more
Danielle
Look, it's hard for me to write a completely like, unbiased, removed review of this, because I myself am adopted. For years and years as a kid I wondered about my biological parents and where they were, but as of yet have not initiated any sort of search. A part of me wants to and a part of me wants them to do so as well, but reading this book.... hm. The mother is so wrought with neediness and desperation, it becomes almost frightening. As an adoptee, you have to--in the event you ever meet you ...more
Julie
so far...not liking it - and feel like I've read it before (have I? If only I'd always had this site...)

Okay. I had read the story before - in the New Yorker in 2004. If she hadn't mentioned that her biological father always met her in hotels, I wouldn't have remembered the story at all. She's not a very likeable character, she hides more than she reveals, she focuses on things that I don't admire and she doesn't seem to appreciate (or at least let on that she appreciates) the good people in her
...more
Eva Leger
Jan 26, 2009 Eva Leger rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in the feelings of the adoptee
Recommended to Eva by: saw it on-line, the cover got my attention
I'm not sure how to rate this. Sometimes I feel like I liked it and other times I feel like it was just okay. Let's just say 2 & 1/2 stars because that's a happy medium.
I don't know that I would recommend this to anyone if they simply wanted a good book or a good non-fiction book. If someone specifically asked me my opinion on a good book about adoption....maybe. But then, I've read books I enjoyed more from the adoptee's and the birth mother's stand points so I can't be sure.
I loved how s
...more
Diane
Aug 10, 2008 Diane rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one - awful
Shelves: audio-books-read
I enjoy reading memoirs so I though I would give this book a shot.

The audio version was PAINFUL (as in oh, my can I possibly listen to yet another disc) --the voice so dry and monotone with long pauses between words in some instances. She almost sounded like she was in a deep deep state of depression and could not go on a minute more. It took me 2 months to finish. I kept think it would get better but it never did. Fortunately, I did not pay good money for this so all I was out was for wasted ti
...more
Hilleri
This was a fast read for me and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to read about the complexities of adoption. I still struggle with my definition of what a family is and how I fit in. A.M. Homes experience's gave me great comfort and I hope she writes more on adoption issues in the future.

Review by: Nancy J. Mumford
I read this book in about 3 hours in one sitting and was absolutely fascinated. Rather than being a typical story of an adopted child who rediscovers her wonderful birth par
...more
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A.M. Homes (first name Amy) is the author of the novels, This Book Will Save Your Life, Music For Torching, The End of Alice, In a Country of Mothers, and Jack, as well as the short-story collections, Things You Should Know and The Safety of Objects, the travel memoir, Los Angeles: People, Places and The Castle on the Hill, and the artist's book Appendix A: An Elaboration on the Novel the End of A ...more
More about A.M. Homes...
May We Be Forgiven This Book Will Save Your Life The End of Alice The Safety of Objects Music for Torching

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“I think about how truly interesting and odd it is that when a woman marries, traditionally she loses her name, becoming absorbed by the husband's family name - she is in effect lost, evaporated from all records under her maiden name. I finally understand the anger behind feminism - the idea that as a woman you are property to be conveyed between your father and your husband, but never an individual who exists independently. And on the flip side, it is also one of the few ways one can legitimately get lost - no one questions it.” 24 likes
“I grew up convinced that every family was better than mine. I grew up watching other families in awe, hardly able to bear the sensations, the nearly pornographic pleasure of witnessing such small intimacies. I would hover on the edge, knowing that however much they include you—invite you to dinner, take you on family trips—you are never official, you are always the “friend,” the first one left behind.” 0 likes
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